Cranberry Public Library receives $230K state grant
It wasn't a long wait from application to announcement.
Just last month, Cranberry Public Library was named a recipient of a $230,183 state grant through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
While 28 libraries from all over the commonwealth applied in October, Cranberry was one of 15 to be awarded the funds requested.
Established in 1993, the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund supports improvements to Pennsylvania communities, including public libraries.
The money will help pay for one-half of the cost of the library's building project.
“Cost estimates put our project at roughly $460,000,” said Leslie Pallotta, library director, so we asked for half of that.”
The township will match the grant amount.
“We will be adding one large multi-purpose room that will be able to be divided into two medium-sized meeting rooms,” said Pallotta, of Ross Township. “Our current meeting-room space will be converted into three or four small tutoring rooms. And, we'll be getting an outdoor reading garden, as well, which is my favorite component of the project.”
The project also includes new HVAC units, roof repairs and some electrical upgrades.
With a 2013 budget of $550,000, the new money is welcomed.
Additional physical space has been part of the board of trustees' discussion over the years, said Judi Boren, board president, as the use of library space has evolved.
There has been a need for low-cost meeting space for groups and quieter spaces for tutoring, she explained. Homeschoolers and students from private and parochial schools and colleges frequent the library.
Even those taking on-line courses visit during their testing periods.
“Their tests need to be proctored,” Boren said. “We've had to institute a small fee for that.”
The board always has been a part of the “big thinking,” planning new visions for the library, said Boren, a township resident.
And that enthusiasm was mirrored by elected officials and private individuals as this grant was pursued.
“We had a wonderful body of support for the grant,” she said. “We needed three letters (of recommendation) and had 18.”
Having served as president twice, Boren is almost at the end of her six-year term as trustee. One of her life goals had been to serve on a library board.
While grateful for the county and township funding and the state dollars that can be unpredictable, she said, the seven trustees have worked through budget cuts during the last few years, only making limited changes to service. It's only from Memorial Day through Labor Day that the library closes on Sundays.
“We're the only library in Butler County open seven days a week,” she said. “If we could be open 24/7, we would be. Conceptually, we want to be that place.”
Of course, they would need to find employees who would want to fill those shifts.
When construction is completed in 2014, Pallotta and her staff will be able to offer more to an ever-growing audience.
“Program attendance at library events has increased by approximately 300 percent over a five-year period,” she said. “In order to accommodate the growth and the demand, we need a larger facility. The grant is going to enable us to better serve our patrons, which is what we strive to do.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.